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Structural diversity of bacterial flagellar motors

Chen, Songye and Beeby, Morgan and Murphy, Gavin E. and Leadbetter, Jared R. and Hendrixson, David R. and Briegel, Ariane and Li, Zhuo and Shi, Jian and Tocheva, Elitza I. and Müller, Axel and Dobro, Megan J. and Jensen, Grant J. (2011) Structural diversity of bacterial flagellar motors. EMBO Journal, 30 (14). pp. 2972-2981. ISSN 0261-4189. PMCID PMC3641884.

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The bacterial flagellum is one of nature’s most amazing and well-studied nanomachines. Its cell-wall-anchored motor uses chemical energy to rotate a microns-long filament and propel the bacterium towards nutrients and away from toxins. While much is known about flagellar motors from certain model organisms, their diversity across the bacterial kingdom is less well characterized, allowing the occasional misrepresentation of the motor as an invariant, ideal machine. Here, we present an electron cryotomographical survey of flagellar motor architectures throughout the Bacteria. While a conserved structural core was observed in all 11 bacteria imaged, surprisingly novel and divergent structures as well as different symmetries were observed surrounding the core. Correlating the motor structures with the presence and absence of particular motor genes in each organism suggested the locations of five proteins involved in the export apparatus including FliI, whose position below the C-ring was confirmed by imaging a deletion strain. The combination of conserved and specially-adapted structures seen here sheds light on how this complex protein nanomachine has evolved to meet the needs of different species.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Chen, Songye0000-0001-5407-5049
Beeby, Morgan0000-0001-6413-9835
Leadbetter, Jared R.0000-0002-7033-0844
Briegel, Ariane0000-0003-3733-3725
Shi, Jian0000-0003-3810-5302
Tocheva, Elitza I.0000-0002-4869-8319
Dobro, Megan J.0000-0002-6464-3932
Jensen, Grant J.0000-0003-1556-4864
Additional Information:© 2011 European Molecular Biology Organization. Received: 20 December 2010; accepted: 17 May 2011; published online: 14 June 2011. We thank Drs Jane H Ding and Alasdair McDowall for computational and EM support, respectively; Sarkis K Mazmanian for use of the microaerobic chamber; and Igor Antoshechkin for advice on genome assembly. This work was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Cell Center and the National Science Foundation. Author contributions: GJJ designed the research; SC, MB, GEM, AB, ZL, JS, EIT, AM, JRL and MJD cultured cells and/or collected tomograms; SC averaged subtomograms with help from GEM; JRL and MB coordinated the sequencing and annotation of needed genomes, MB performed bioinformatics, and together with DRH identified export densities, including subtomogram averaging of the comparative wild-type and mutant C. jejuni motors; SC, MB and GJJ analysed the results and wrote the paper.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)UNSPECIFIED
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:bacterial flagellar motor; electron cryotomography; motility; phylogenetic profiling; subtomogram average
Issue or Number:14
PubMed Central ID:PMC3641884
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20110908-081125458
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Structural diversity of bacterial flagellar motors A comprehensive electron cryotomographical survey of bacterial flagellar motors reveals the existence of a conserved structural core that is surrounded by a divergent set of novel structural features. Key proteins of the flagellar export apparatus can now be localized within the motor. Songye Chen, Morgan Beeby, Gavin E Murphy, Jared R Leadbetter, David R Hendrixson, Ariane Briegel, Zhuo Li, Jian Shi, Elitza I Tocheva, Axel Müller, Megan J Dobro and Grant J Jensen The EMBO Journal (2011), 30, - 2972 - 2981, doi:10.1038/emboj.2011.186
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:25249
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 16:11
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 22:59

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